We’re smack-dab in the middle of “Banned Books Week,” September 18 to 24. Enter almost any library or bookstore, and you’ll see stacks of books under a sign that says, “Banned Books.”
But wait a minute – I thought these books were banned. So why are they on display and available for patrons to check out or purchase?
That’s because the whole week is both misleading and inaccurate – none of these books are actually censored by the government or banned. All the books on the list were challenged, usually based on their age-inappropriate availability to children, adolescents or teens.
Adults who want to read them can easily buy or borrow them at bookstores and libraries, as well as through online booksellers.
Nowhere in the country are police going house to house, searching to grab and burn books. Nor are they confiscating books from libraries and stores.
The challenges come from concerned parents, grandparents or advocates for children. Some schools and libraries then move to remove the books or restrict their usage. This is hardly a “ban.”
The top ten most challenged books are laced with profanity, “gender” or “queer” ideology, sexual violence, radical “critical race theory,” or sexually explicit content (caution – descriptions may include disturbing content, and links may lead to graphic excerpts).
The most challenged book for the past year was Gender Queer. It has been found in middle and high school libraries and in the teen section of public libraries across the country. The organization Common Sense Media reported:
Author/illustrator Maia Kobabe uses e, em, and eir pronouns. Explicit but not erotic illustrations of sexual activity include masturbation, oral sex, sex toys, kissing in an implied sex position, erections, and a fantasy image of a man holding another’s penis.”
But the American Library Association (ALA) gave it an award “for being of special interest to teens.”
In Fairfax County, board members attempted to shut down Stacey Langton, a mom who read from Gender Queer. The book was reviewed by the board, which then elected to keep it in the library for students. Evidently it was acceptable for students to check out but not for reading in public.
Lawn Boy is next on the list. One website (again, caution) reviewed the book and said, “Its pedophilic, exploitative and abusive elements go beyond the swear words and the sexual passages.”
Fox News reported, “Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison includes long sections of a boy reminiscing about explicit experiences he had at 10 years old.” Again, Fairfax County Public Schools reviewed the profanity-riddled book and left it on school library shelves. The book also received an award from the ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association.
The other eight most challenged books follow along in a similar vein, being challenged as inappropriate for young people for their profanity, radical ideology, sexually explicit scenes, and graphic depictions of abuse and violence.
Such challenges aren’t about banning books, which adults can find through myriad other outlets, but about protecting children, adolescents and teens from disturbing and age-inappropriate content.
While many librarians are Christians, want to protect children and support parental rights, the ALA, one of the main sponsors of the event, believes any book should be available to anyone – regardless of age.
The association’s “Library Bill of Rights” demonstrates what the group thinks about parental involvement in their children’s book choices. Here are three articles from that document:
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views. (The ALA re-affirmed the inclusion of “age” in this article back in 1996.)
VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.
The ALA thinks children deserve “privacy and confidentiality in their library use” – so parents’ rights can be abrogated, and children should be able to check out whatever they want, without parents’ knowledge and permission.
Parents have a right to provide for the care, nurturing, and moral and religious upbringing of their children. Protecting them from harmful and destructive books is hardly the same as “banning” them.
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